Accusations against Assange political stunt: Lawyer

Sunday, December 5, 2010

LONDON - The founder of whistleblower website WikiLeaks will fight charges of sexual offences, with his lawyer saying Sunday that the accusations are a “political stunt” being orchestrated by officials in Sweden, possibly at the behest of Washington.

“It doesn’t escape my attention that Sweden was one of those lickspittle states which used its resources and its facilities for rendition flights,” the lawyer, Mark Stephens, told BBC television.

He was referring to the rendition of terrorism suspects who were flown to other countries where they were tortured.

WikiLeaks is publishing 251,287 US embassy cables, the latest trove of confidential US documents to be made public by the group and one which is causing consternation around the world.

Julian Assange, the founder, is wanted for questioning in Sweden, in relation to charges against him made by two women. Last week, Sweden issued an arrest warrant for him and an Interpol notice has also gone out.

Stephen says the charges against Assange were dropped in September, but were brought back “after the intervention of a Swedish politician”.

“It does seem to be a political stunt,” Stephen said, adding later that “I’m really rather worried by the political motivations that appear to be behind this”.

Assange, whose exact whereabouts are unknown, remained concerned about his safety, the lawyer noted.

“We’ve seen a number of suggestions that he should be assassinated, again from credible sources around the world,” said Stephen.

“People as high up the American tree as Sarah Palin have called for him to be hunted down by American special forces and assassinated.”

Filed under: Immigration, World

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